Aliens or Americans?
by Howard B. Grose
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Sidenote: The Shame of the Century]

Think of it, young people of Christian America! In the twentieth century, in the country we like to think the most enlightened in the world, after all our boasted advancements in civilization, child slavery—more pitiful in some respects than African slavery ever was—has its grip on the nation's childhood.

[Sidenote: An Appalling Record]

The record is amazing to one who has never thought about this subject. Easily a hundred thousand children at work in New York, in all sorts of employments unsuitable and injurious. Try to realize these totals, taken from Mr. Hunter, of children under fifteen, compelled to work in employments generally recognized as injurious: Over 7,000 in this country in laundries; nearly 2,000 in bakeshops; 367 in saloons as bartenders and other ways; over 138,000 at work as waiters and servants in hotels and restaurants, with long hours and conditions morally bad; 42,000 employed as messengers, with work hours often unlimited and temptations leading to immorality and vice; 20,000 in stores; 2,500 on the railroads; over 24,000 in mines and quarries; over 5,000 in glass factories; about 10,000 in sawmills and the wood-working industries; over 7,500 in iron and steel mills; over 11,000 in cigar and tobacco factories; and over 80,000 in the silk and cotton and other textile mills.

[Sidenote: Soul Murder for Money]

Now, all of these industries are physically injurious to childhood. But more than this, schooling has been made impossible, and immorality, disease, and death reap a rich harvest from this seed-sowing. And why are these helpless children thus engaged and enslaved, stunted, crippled, and corrupted, deprived of education and a fair chance in life? Simply because their labor is cheap. Mr. Hunter speaks none too strongly when he calls this "murder, cannibalism, destruction of soul and body." And it is the children of the immigrants who are thus sacrificed to Mammon, the pitiless god of greed. Shall our Christian young people have no voice in righting this wrong? Within a generation they can put an end to it, if they will. Here is home missionary work at hand, calling for highest endeavors.



I. Foreigners in Cities.

1. What are the chief causes of the following: (1) the rapid growth of great cities; (2) the existence of slums; (3) the settling of immigrants in colonies?

2. Is your knowledge of the lives of the poor sufficient to move you to work for their redemption? Are any of those persons, about whom we have studied, your neighbors?

3. Is the prevailing tone of New York and other cities American or Foreign? Give illustrations.

4. What is the prevailing tone in city government? Is there any connection between the answers of these last two questions?

II. Tenement-House Evils.

5. Where do most of the foreigners settle first in the United States? Of what races is the mass chiefly composed?

6. Describe the conditions under which they live. Do they find them so or make them so?

7. What remedies can be applied to tenement-house conditions? What do the workers among them think of the needs and prospects?

8. What can be done toward improvement by the family? the school? the city government?

III. Prevalent Abuses.

9. Do the slum conditions tend to contaminate new arrivals? Do they actually deteriorate?

10. What is the worst industrial feature of the tenement-house districts? Describe its workings. Tell of some typical sweat-shop workers.

11. What political evils flourish in the congested districts?

12. What moral and social evils flourish in the congested districts?

IV. Effects upon the Poor and the Children.

13. What relation does immigration hold to pauperism and poverty? To conditions of health?

14. Name some of the principal authorities for the preceding answers? How would you answer those who disputed their statements?

15. Can you give any facts as to child labor? What do you think of the policy of employing children?

16. * Does this chapter convince you that Christians have a duty in these matters, and if so, what is it?


I. New York Slums and Foreign Quarters.

Study especially the Ghetto, Little Italy, Little Hungary, et al. and find out whether similar conditions exist in cities of your section.

For New York, consult University Settlement Studies, Vol. I, Nos. 3 and 4. Riis: How the Other Half Lives, X, XII.

For Chicago, consult Hull House Papers.

For Boston, consult Wood: Americans in Process, III, IV.

II. Measures for Relief of Slum Population.

Riis: The Battle With the Slum, V-XV. Riis: How the Other Half Lives, VI, VII, XXIV.

III. Connection between a Dense Foreign Population and Corruption in Politics.

Wood: Americans in Process, VI.

IV. Checks Put upon Industrial Oppression and Poverty.

Riis: The Peril and the Preservation of the Home.

V. Problems of Poverty and Childhood as Affected by Immigration.

Hunter: Poverty, I, V, VI. Riis: How the Other Half Lives, XV, XVII, XXI.

"To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely," said Burke. If there is to be patriotism, it must be a matter of pride to say, "Americanus sum"—I am an American.—Professor Mayo-Smith.



If that man who careth not for his own household is worse than an infidel, the nation which permits its institutions to be endangered by any cause that can fairly be removed, is guilty, not less in Christian than in natural law. Charity begins at home; and while the people of the United States have gladly offered an asylum to millions upon millions of the distressed and unfortunate of other lands and climes, they have no right to carry their hospitality one step beyond the line where American institutions, the American rate of wages, the American standard of living are brought into serious peril. Our highest duty to charity and to humanity is to make this great experiment here, of free laws and educated labor, the most triumphant success that can possibly be attained. In this way we shall do far more for Europe than by allowing its slums and its vast stagnant reservoirs of degraded peasantry to be drained off upon our soil.—General Francis A. Walker.

If the hope which this country holds out to the human race of permanent and stable government is to be impaired by the enormous and unregulated inroad of poverty and ignorance, which changed conditions of transportation have brought upon us, then for the sake of Europe, as well as for the sake of America, the coming of these people should be checked and regulated until we can handle the problems that are already facing us.—Phillips Brooks.

There are certain fundamentals in every system, to destroy which destroys the system itself. Our institutions have grown up with us and are adapted to our national character and needs. To change them at the demand of agitators knowing nothing of that character and those needs would be absurd and destructive.—Professor Mayo-Smith.



I. Two Points of View

[Sidenote: The Larger Race Problem]

Immigration is a radically different problem from that of slavery, but not less vital to the Republic. It is a marvelous opportunity for a Christian nation, awake; but an unarmed invasion signifying destruction to the ideals and institutions of a free and nominally Christian nation, asleep. "The wise man's eyes are in his head," says Solomon, "but the fool walketh in darkness." In other words, the difference between the wise and otherwise is one of sight. While Americans are walking in the darkness of indifferentism and of an optimism born not of faith but ignorance, immigration is steadily changing the character of our civilization. We are face to face with the larger race problem—that of assimilating sixty nationalities and races. The problem will never be solved by minimizing or deriding or misunderstanding it.

[Sidenote: The Two Sides]

All through this study we have sought to remember that there are two sides to every question, and two to every phase of this great immigration question. Especially is this true when we come to estimating effects upon character, for here we are in the domain of inference and of reasoning from necessarily limited knowledge. Here, too, temperament and bias play their part. One person learns that of every five persons you meet in New York four are of foreign birth or parentage, notes the change in personality, customs, and manners, and wonders how long our free institutions can stand this test of unrestricted immigration. Another answers that the foreigners are not so bad as they are often painted, and that the immorality in the most foreign parts of New York is less than in other parts.

[Sidenote: Different Opinions]

A third says it is not fair to count the children of foreign-born parents as foreign; that they are in fact much stronger Americans in general than the native children of native parentage; and instances the flag-drills in the schools, in which the foreign children take the keenest delight, as they do in the study of American history. But a fourth says, with Professor Boyesen, that it takes generations of intelligent, self-restrained, and self-respecting persons to make a man fit to govern himself, and that if the ordinary tests of intelligence and morality amount to anything, it certainly would take three or four generations to educate these newcomers up to the level of American citizenship.

[Sidenote: Conflicting Views]

One observer of present conditions says there is a lowered moral and political tone by reason of immigration; and another agrees with a leader in settlement work who recently said to the writer that he sees no reason to restrict immigration, that wages will take care of themselves and the foreigner steadily improve, and that there is in the younger foreign element a needed dynamic, a consciousness of Americanism, an interest in everything American in refreshing contrast to the laissez-faire type of native young person now so common. His conclusion, from contact with both types, is that the intenseness and enthusiasm of the foreign element will make the native element bestir itself or go under.

[Sidenote: Mean between Extremes]

So opinions run, pro and con. There must be a mean between the two extremes—the one, that God is in a peculiar sense responsible for the future of the United States, and cannot afford to let our experiment of self-government fail, however foolish and reckless the people may be; and the other, that unless Congress speedily passes restrictive laws the destiny of our country will be imperiled beyond remedy. We find such a mean in that Americanization which includes evangelization as an essential part of the assimilating process.

[Sidenote: Foreigners Everywhere]

As to the ubiquity of the foreigner all will agree. "Any foreigners in your neighborhood?" asked the writer of a friend in a remote country hamlet. "O, yes," was the reply, "we have a colony of Italians." Of all such questions asked during months past not one has been answered in the negative. Go where you will, from Atlantic to Pacific Coast, the immigrant is there. In nineteen of the northern states of our Republic the number of the foreign-born and their immediate descendants exceeds the number of the native-born. In the largest cities the number is two thirds, and even three quarters. There are more Cohens than Smiths in the New York directory. Two thirds of the laborers in our factories are foreign-born or of foreign parentage. New England is no longer Puritan but foreign. So is it in the Middle and the Central West, and not only in city and town but hamlet and valley. The farms sanctified by many a Puritan prayer are occupied to-day by French-Canadian and Italian aliens. Foreigners are running our factories, working our mines, building our railways, boring our tunnels, doing the hard manual labor in all the great constructive enterprises of the nation. They are also entering all the avenues of trade, and few other than foreign names can be seen on the business signs in our cities large or small.

[Sidenote: Foreignism Preserved]

Not only do you find the foreigner, of one race or another, everywhere, but wherever you find him in any numbers you note that the most distinctive feature is the foreignism. The immigrant readily catches the spirit of independence and makes the most of liberty. He is insistent upon his rights, but not always so careful about the rights of others. He is imitative, and absorbs the spirit of selfishness as quickly as do the native-born. He is often unkempt, uncultured, dirty, and disagreeable. He is also impressionable and changeable, responsive to kindness as he is resentful of contempt. He follows his own customs both on Sundays and week days. He knows as little about American ideas as Americans know about him. He is commonly apt to learn, and very much depends upon the kind of teaching he falls under. Much of it, unfortunately, has not been of the kind to make the American ideas and ways seem preferable to his own. Made to feel like an alien, he is likely to remain at heart an alien; whereas the very safety and welfare and Christian civilization of our country depend in no small degree upon transforming him into a true American. For upon this change hangs the answer to the question, which influence is to be strongest—ours upon the foreigner or the foreigner's upon us.

II. American Ideals

[Sidenote: A Question for Patriots]

Surely this is a question to engage the attention of Christian patriots—the influence of this vast mass of undigested if not indigestible immigration upon the national character and life. A most scholarly and valuable treatment of this subject is found in the discriminating work by Professor Mayo-Smith, one of the very best books written on the subject. The figures are out of date, but the principles so clearly enunciated are permanent, and the conclusions sane and sound. This is the way he opens up the subject we are now considering:

[Sidenote: The Marks of a High Civilization]

"The whole life of a nation is not covered by its politics and its economics. Civilization does not consist merely of free political institutions and material prosperity. The morality of a community, its observance of law and order, its freedom from vice, its intelligence, its rate of mortality and morbidity, its thrift, cleanliness, and freedom from a degrading pauperism, its observance of family ties and obligations, its humanitarian disposition and charity, and finally its social ideals and habits are just as much indices of its civilization as the trial by jury or a high rate of wages. These things are, in fact, the flower and fruit of civilization—in them consists the successful 'pursuit of happiness' which our ancestors coupled with life and liberty as the inalienable rights of a man worthy of the name.

"In order that we may take a pride in our nationality and be willing to make sacrifices for our country, it is necessary that it should satisfy in some measure our ideal of what a nation ought to be. What now are the characteristics of American state and social life which we desire to see preserved? Among the most obvious are the following:

[Sidenote: American Ideals]

"(1) The free political constitution and the ability to govern ourselves in the ordinary affairs of life, which we have inherited from England and so surprisingly developed in our own history;

"(2) The social morality of the Puritan settlers of New England, which the spirit of equality and the absence of privileged classes have enabled us to maintain;

"(3) The economic well-being of the mass of the community, which affords our working classes a degree of comfort distinguishing them sharply from the artisans and peasants of Europe;

"(4) Certain social habits which are distinctively American or are, at least, present in greater degree among our people than elsewhere in the world. Such are love of law and order, ready acquiescence in the will of the majority, a generally humane spirit, displaying itself in respect for women and care for children and helpless persons, a willingness to help others, a sense of humor, a good nature and a kindly manner, a national patriotism, and confidence in the future of the country.

"All these are desirable traits; and as we look forward to the future of our commonwealth we should wish to see them preserved, and should deprecate influences tending to destroy the conditions under which they exist. Any such phenomenon as immigration, exerting wide and lasting influence, should be examined with great care to see what its effect on these things will be."[79]

[Sidenote: Protestant Religion Vital]

We should add to this thoughtful statement a clause concerning religion. A vital thing to be maintained and extended is the Protestant faith which formed the basis of our colonial and national life. No part of the subject should receive more careful scrutiny than the effect of immigration upon Protestant America. Whatever would make this country less distinctively Protestant in religion tends to destroy all the other social and civil characteristics which, it is well said, we wish to preserve.

[Sidenote: American Life Changing]

When immigration began in the early years of the nineteenth century, the American people possessed a distinctive life and character of their own, differing in many respects from that of any other people. The easy amalgamation of the races that formed the colonial stock—English, Huguenot, Scotch, Dutch—had produced an American stock distinct from any in the Old World. The nation was practically homogeneous, and its social, religious, and political ideals and aims were distinct. That great changes have taken place in the past century no one will deny. The material expansion and development have not been more marked than the changes social and religious.

[Sidenote: Influence of Immigration]

Just what part immigration has played in producing these changes it is of course difficult to say with exactness, but unquestionably the part has been very great. The twenty-three millions of aliens admitted into the United States since 1820 brought their habits and customs and standards of living with them; brought also their religion or want of it; and it would be absurd to imagine that all of these millions had been Americanized, or, in other words, had given up their old ways for our ways of thinking and living. On the contrary, they have transported all sorts of political notions from monarchial countries to our soil. "The continental ideas of the Sabbath, the nihilist's ideas of government, the communist's ideas of property, the pagan's ideas of religion—all these mingle in our air with the ideas that shaped the men at Plymouth Rock and Valley Forge," that adorned hill, dale and prairie with Christian church and Christian school, and made possible the building of free America.

[Sidenote: The Grade of the Aliens]

As we have seen, the immigrants have mostly represented the peasant or lower classes of the countries whence they came. This is noted, not in the way of prejudice, but because it is always true that mortality is greater, and crime, illiteracy, and pauperism are more prevalent among the lower classes. Of course it is also true that if the higher classes had come from foreign lands they would have made an addition to the social life quite different from that which did come. The average character of the immigration, however favorable, required raising in order to meet the American level. In the new environment it was to be expected that large numbers of individuals among the immigrants would rise to prominence and influence, and this has been the case. The country owes large debt to the immigrants of earlier days. Their children and descendants are loyal Americans. It is true, on the other hand, that many have come from unfortunate conditions in the Old World only to fall into quite as unfortunate ones in the New; and they and their descendants have swollen the pauper and criminal class. The statistics prove that a large proportion of our criminals and convicts are of foreign birth. It is still more significant to note that, in the opinion of expert observers, the first generation of foreign-born parentage, in the cities at least, make a worse record than the migrating parents.

[Sidenote: Bad Effects of New Environments]

If this be so, the new environment is producing deterioration and degeneracy instead of improvement. An Italian of education, working among his people, told the writer that the Italian boys and girls born here, or coming at a very early age, were much more lawless and disorderly and difficult to deal with than their fathers and mothers. They had imbibed all the worst features of our life, its independence, its defiance of parental authority, its selfishness, rudeness, and vices, while they lacked the reverence, courtesy, and spirit of obedience native to the Italian-born. This is substantiated by many witnesses who have labored among the foreign element. The Americanization these children are getting is largely of the worst type—the type that we should like to see emigrate to European countries. And it is confined to no one race, but common to all. Professor Boyesen, for instance, a Norwegian-American, who blamed the ideas gained in the public schools for some of the results seen in the young hoodlums and roughs of foreign parentage, said that worthy German and Scandinavian fathers complained bitterly that they could not govern their children in this country. Their sons took to the streets, and if disciplined left home entirely; and they attributed this to the spirit of irresponsible independence in the air. This is perhaps one of the inevitable penalties of individual liberty.

III. Various Effects of Immigration

[Sidenote: Making Life too Cheap]

The introduction through immigration of a lower standard of living has been shown in preceding chapters. The point to be appreciated is that in this matter we are not dealing with the immigration of individual paupers and cheap workingmen, but with the influx of whole classes that threaten to degrade our material civilization. There are in America entire communities which live on a different plane, and form colonies as foreign to American ideas and life as anything in Europe can show. They have organized their own social life and fixed their own standards, instead of rising to ours. The results are plain all over the country. Immigration has cheapened more than wages in certain lines, it has cheapened life, until the coal barons could say, "It is cheaper to store men than coal." But men may be too cheap.

[Sidenote: Good Qualities Bad if Abused]

Some of the best qualities in the immigrants are liable to abuse. Thrift, for instance, is commendable, but not when it is exercised at the expense of decent living. Economy is an admirable trait, but not when practiced at the expense of manhood and decent conditions. A distinct deterioration of the masses displaced by the cheaper labor has marked the advent of the new immigration. While some of the workingmen thrown out of employment by immigration rise with the increase in the number of superior positions, the great mass are obliged to accept the lower standard or are forced out of the industry into misery, pauperism, and crime. The greater tendency of immigrants, by reason of their poverty, to permit or encourage the employment of their wives or children, still further increases the intensity of the competition for employment. In view of all the facts, a recent writer argues that the limitation or restriction which would reduce the volume and improve the economic quality of immigration would greatly improve labor conditions in this country.

[Sidenote: Deterioration a Result of too Large Immigration]

Under the present free inflow, says this writer, "the condition of the great mass of the working classes of this country is being permanently depressed, and the difference between the industrial condition of the unskilled workers in our country and of other countries is being steadily lessened to our permanent and great detriment."[80]

[Sidenote: False Reasoning]

As to the economic effects of unrestricted immigration, the stock argument that it costs a foreign country a thousand dollars to raise a man, and that, therefore, every immigrant is that much clear money gain to this country, simply begs the question of the usefulness of the immigrant and the country's need of him. Many immigrants are not worth what it cost to raise them, to their native land or any other; and at any rate, a man is only of value where he can fit into the community life and do something it needs to have done. Another naive claim is that every mouth that comes into the country brings with it two hands, the assumption being that there is necessarily work for the two hands. If not, then there is an extra mouth to be fed at somebody else's expense. The real question is one of demand and quality.

[Sidenote: Effects upon Education]

What effect has immigration had, and what is it likely to have, upon our national educational policy? The parochial school is opposed to the public school; the parochial school is Roman, the public school American. The parochial schools could not secure scholars but for immigration. The Roman Catholic Church is persistently trying to get appropriations of public money for parochial schools, although well aware that this is directly contrary to the fundamental American principle of absolute separation of Church and State; and is relying upon the foreign vote to accomplish this un-American purpose. Here is an illustration of the conditions made possible through unchecked immigration and the wielding of this immigration by priestly influence:

[Sidenote: Baneful Results in Illinois]

In Illinois the foreign element outnumbers the native in voting power. In consequence compulsory education in the public schools of that state was voted down by a legislature pledged to obey the dictum of the foreign element. Where the priests wield the foreign element in favor of the parochial schools, it is not possible to pass a bill for compulsory education in the English language.

[Sidenote: Parochial Schools in Pennsylvania]

The striking fact is given by Dr. Warne[81] that in parochial schools for the Slav children in Pennsylvania, English is not taught, and the children are growing up as thoroughly foreign and under priestly control as though they were in Bohemia or Galicia.

[Sidenote: A Real Menace to the Republic]

A student of this subject[82] says that all the facts indicate that the time will come when, if compulsory education in English is not maintained by the states, this important matter will have to be made one of national legislation. "The supine bowing of the native element in our political parties to this foreign, domineering, un-American and denationalizing opposition to the state control of the education of the child for citizenship is in itself a menace. When we hear of public schools in America taught in German and Polish, instead of the language of Emerson and Longfellow, Lincoln and Grant, one feels like taking, not Diogenes' lantern, but an Edison searchlight, and going about our streets to see if there be in all our cities a patriot." More evil in results than this, and most insidious of all the attempts of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to undermine American principles, is the system of so-called compromise by which some of the public schools are taught by nuns, sisters, and priests, who wear their Church garb, and use the school buildings during certain hours for sectarian instruction. The mere statement of the facts ought to be sufficient to bring about drastic remedies, but the easy-going Protestants apparently do not realize what is being done.

[Sidenote: Schools the Sure Way to Americanism]

American patriotism must steadily and resolutely resist every Roman Catholic attack, open or covert, upon our public schools, every attempt to divert public moneys to sectarian purposes. This is vital to the preservation of our civil and religious liberty. For the immigrant children the public schools are the sluiceways into Americanism. When the stream of alien childhood flows through them, it will issue into the reservoirs of national life with the Old World taints filtered out, and the qualities retained that make for loyalty and good citizenship. We shall have to look to our school boards, elevate them above party politics and the reach of graft, and elect upon them men and women instinct with the spirit of true Americanism, or see this mightiest agency of modern civilization diverted from its high mission to produce for the Republic an enlightened and noble manhood and womanhood.

[Sidenote: Effects upon Political Conditions]

What is the effect of the addition of so many thousands of men of voting age upon our political conditions? Undoubtedly demoralizing and dangerous. Professor Mayo-Smith says: "We are thus conferring the privilege of citizenship, including the right to vote, without any test of the man's fitness for it. The German vote in many localities controls the action of political leaders on the liquor question, oftentimes in opposition to the sentiment of the native community. The bad influence of a purely ignorant vote is seen in the degradation of our municipal administrations in America."[83] The foreign-born congregate in the large cities, especially the mass of unskilled laborers. There they easily come under control of leaders of their own race, who use them to further selfish ends. Fraudulent naturalization is another evil result. There is no more dangerous element in the Republic than a foreign vote, wielded by unscrupulous partisans and grafters. The immigrant is not so much to blame as are those who corrupt him, but if he were not here they would have no opportunity. In order to wield a bludgeon a bully must have the bludgeon.

[Sidenote: A Voter Should be Able to Read his Ballot]

There is an unquestioned and increasing evil and peril in a German vote, an Irish vote, a Scandinavian vote, an Italian vote, and a Hebrew vote. Out in South Dakota a Russian vote also has to be reckoned with, and in New England a French-Canadian vote. All this is undemocratic and unwholesome in the highest degree. Our government is based upon the intelligent and responsible use of the ballot. How can such use be possible in the case of the naturalized alien who cannot read or write our language or any other? No one can declare it unreasonable that a reading test as a qualification for voting should be required of all. On the brighter side of the political phase, it is asserted that it was the foreign element of the East Side in New York that made possible the election of a reform candidate in a recent election, and that this element can be relied upon for reform and independent voting quite as much as the American society element, which is frequently too indifferent to vote at all. There is too much truth in this. At the same time, one who is familiar with the discussions at the People's Forum in Cooper Institute, New York, or similar meeting places of the foreign element in other large cities, knows how essentially un-American are the point of view and the theories most advocated.

IV. The Religious Problem

[Sidenote: Effects upon Religious Conditions]

What is the effect of immigration upon the religious life of the country? This is an exceedingly difficult matter upon which to generalize. There is no doubt that great changes have taken place in the religious views and practices of the people, but how far these can be attributed to foreign influence is something upon which agreement will be rare and judgment difficult. It will be instructive, first of all, to study this table, which gives the results of questions asked the immigrants in 1900 concerning their religious connections. This was the last inquiry of the kind officially made, and will indicate what religious elements in immigration must be taken into consideration:


- Total Protestants Countries Roman Catholics Greek Catholics - Austria-Hungary 64,835 5,009 39,694 7,699 Belgium 1,728 94 967 2 Denmark 3,253 2,629 44 France 4,902 165 1,736 3 German Empire 25,904 10,258 6,758 18 Greece 2,450 14 14 2,350 Italy 79,664 50 78,306 26 Netherlands 1,994 839 190 Norway 7,113 6,674 2 Portugal 2,269 2 2,056 Roumania 1,655 160 60 31 Russian Empire and Finland 62,537 13,295 22,462 1,470 Servia, Bulgaria 59 4 47 Spain 1,428 15 704 Sweden 13,541 12,708 9 Switzerland 2,294 710 608 7 Turkey in Europe 137 5 5 33 United Kingdom 65,390 12,611 31,216 4 Not specified 8 5 Total Europe 341,161 65,238 184,835 11,695 Total Asia 9,726 452 1,390 2,833 Africa 109 13 9 All other countries 10,440 1,274 2,178 11 - Grand Total[84] 361,436 66,977 188,412 14,539 - Percentage in each religion 100 18.54 52.14 4.03 -

Israelites Brahmans Countries Mohammedans Miscellaneous Austria-Hungary 11,082 1,351 Belgium 4 661 Denmark 2 578 France 12 2 2,984 German Empire 401 8,469 Greece 72 Italy 1 1,281 Netherlands 8 957 Norway 437 Portugal 211 Roumania 1,350 54 Russian Empire and Finland 24,351 1 958 Servia, Bulgaria 1 7 Spain 709 Sweden 824 Switzerland 6 963 Turkey in Europe 27 13 54 United Kingdom 197 1 21,361 Not specified 3 Total Europe 37,442 17 41,934 Total Asia 48 3,373 77 1,553 Africa 5 16 66 All other countries 28 228 6,721 - Grand Total[84] 37,523 3,601 110 50,274 - Percentage in each religion 10.39 .99 13.91 -

[Sidenote: Eighty Per Cent. Non-Protestant]

In analyzing these figures, it will be noted that the Roman Catholics had fifty-two per cent. in a year when the total immigration of 361,436 (not much over one third that of the present time) was about the same in the proportion of aliens from southeastern Europe as now. The Jews would make a larger showing at present, as the immigrants from Russia are almost wholly Jews. The Protestant strength certainly would not be any greater proportionately. The large number put down as miscellaneous is significant. What a task is laid upon American Protestantism—nothing less than the evangelization of nearly eighty-two per cent. of the vast immigration. It is easy to say that the fifty-two per cent. is nominally Christian, but in fact that nominal Christianity is in many respects as much out of sympathy with American religious ideals, with democracy and the pure gospel, as is heathenism; and it is in many cases as difficult to reach, and as great an obstacle to the assimilation of the aliens.

[Sidenote: Sunday Observance]

Looking at various results of this incoming host, in regard to reverence for Sunday and observance of it, it is fair to assume that the millions of Germans, with their continental Sunday, were leaders in breaking in upon our Sunday customs. While they have as a people observed the laws—although seeking to have the laws changed so as to permit here the home customs of open concert halls and beer gardens on Sunday afternoon and evening—their influence has been strongly felt in favor of loose Sunday observance, and this has been sufficient to stimulate the natural tendency of the American element to make the day one of amusement and recreation, regardless of laws. The result is that now we have a lawless American Sunday quite different from and more objectionable than the continental Sunday.

[Sidenote: Disregard of Law]

In the larger cities throughout the country the encroachments of the money-makers have been steady. Performances of all kinds are permitted, theaters run either openly or with thinly veiled programs, saloons are open to those who know where the proper entrances are, and many forms of business and labor are carried on seven days in the week. The Jews claimed that it was a hardship to have to close on Sunday, when their religious observances came on Saturday, with result that a good many manage to keep shops and factories open all the year around. Pleas of necessity have been put forward where contractors desired to push jobs and profits. Sunday excursions are universal, and in order to gain their Sunday pleasure-outings several millions of people of all races keep several other millions hard at work on the day of rest. All places are crowded on Sunday except the churches. Go among the foreign elements in the city and you would never know it was Sunday. Holiday has supplanted holy-day. Observe the trolley-cars or subway or elevated trains on Sunday and you will see nine foreigners out of every ten persons. Go into the suburbs and you will find springing up in out-of-the-way places, where land can be secured cheap, little recreation parks, with games and dancing platforms; and here there will be throngs of Italians and other foreigners all day.

[Sidenote: Loss of the American Sunday]

Let us be just in this matter. The loss of the American Sunday is undoubtedly due in great measure to immigration; due in part to the weakness and dereliction of American professing Christians who have surrendered to the foreign elements and fallen in with their ideas instead of maintaining public worship and insisting upon respect for law at least. Let the blame fall where it belongs, and let the Church members recreant to duty take their share. When the sea threatened Holland her resolute people built the dykes and maintained them; American Christians have failed to stop the leaks in the church dykes, and we have had a Sunday submergence in consequence. The effect of it upon our national development is already evident and is most disastrous to our highest interests. Sabbath-breaking and progress-making never go together. Sunday work and pleasure combined form the peril alike of the American workingman and of Christian civilization.

[Sidenote: General Deterioration]

Along with this inflow of alien ideas in religion goes a lowered morality and a lower tone generally. Not that the sins of those in high places are to be charged upon the poor immigrant, for he rarely if ever belongs to that class. The statement may be true that the great rascals are of native stock. But that only increases the peril. The masses that come to us from southern Europe certainly will not raise the moral or commercial, any more than they will the political or intellectual, level. If we do not raise them they will tend to lower us; and much of what they see and hear can have nothing less than a demoralizing effect.

[Sidenote: The Only Safeguard of Liberty]

Where shall we find the zealous and consistent Christians who by sympathetic contact will represent the true spirit of Christianity, and make the elevation of the aliens possible? The supreme truth to be realized is that nothing but Christianity, as incarnated in American Protestantism, can preserve America's free institutions.

[Sidenote: Spread of Socialism]

Ex-President Seelye, of Amherst, said that socialism is the question of the time, and this is more apparent with every passing year. Socialism has its source in the foreign element. It is not native to America. Its swelling hosts are composed almost entirely of immigrants of recent coming. It is found not only in the great cities but is spreading through the farming sections. Now, there is a truth in socialism that must be intelligently dealt with; and there is a Christian socialism that should become dominant. And this is the only force that can check and counteract the foreign socialism that would sweep away foundations instead of ameliorating conditions and remedying evils.

[Sidenote: Migration a Severe Test]

In the same way, Protestant Christianity is the only agency that can save us from the moral degeneracy involved in migration, even if the immigrants were of our moral grade before coming. As Dr. Strong says, the very act of migration is demoralizing. All the strength that comes from associations, surroundings, relations, the emigrant leaves behind him, and becomes isolated in a strange land. Is it strange, then, that those who come from other lands, whose old associations are all broken and whose reputations are left behind, should sink to a lower moral level? Across the sea they suffered restraints which are here removed. Better wages afford larger means of self-indulgence; often the back is not strong enough to bear prosperity, and liberty too often lapses into license.[85]

[Sidenote: Why Foreign Colonies are Perpetuated]

This result of migration is at once an evil and an opportunity. Breaking away from the old associations leaves room and necessity for new ones. Upon the character of these the future of the immigrant will largely depend. Here is the Christian opportunity. See to it that the new associations make for righteousness and patriotism. If the immigrant is evangelized, assimilation is easy and sure. It is recognition of this fact that leads the Roman Catholic Church to keep foreign colonies in America as isolated and permanent as possible. The ecclesiastics realize that children must be held in the parochial schools, so as to avoid the Americanization that comes through the public schools, with the probable loss of loyalty to the Church. The parents equally must be kept away from the influences that would broaden and enlighten them. Dr. Strong tells of large colonies in the West, settled by foreigners of one nationality and religion; "thus building up states within a state, having different languages, different antecedents, different religions, different ideas and habits, preparing mutual jealousies, and perpetuating race antipathies. In New England conventions are held to which only French-Canadian Roman Catholics are admitted. At such a convention in Nashua, New Hampshire, attended by eighty priests, the following mottoes were displayed: 'Our tongue, our nationality, our religion,' 'Before everything else, let us remain French!'" And it is well said: "If our noble domain were tenfold larger than it is, it would still be too small to embrace with safety to our national future, little Germanies here, little Scandinavias there, and little Irelands yonder." To-day there are also little Italies and little Hungaries, and a long list of other races.

V. The Hopeful Side

[Sidenote: A Brighter Picture]

Turning to the pleasanter and brighter side of this great question, we give the encouraging view of one who has spent years among the immigrant population, studying their environment, conditions, and character, with view to improving their chances. She says:

"The writer will risk just one generalization which, it is hoped, the ultimate facts will bear out, that in the case of the new immigration we shall see a repetition of the story of the old immigrant we are so familiar with. First comes the ignorant and poor but industrious peasant, the young man, alone, without wife or family. For a few years he works and saves, living according to a 'standard of life' which shocks his older established neighbors, and we may guess would often shock his people at home. At first he makes plans for going back, sends his savings home, and perhaps goes back himself. But he usually returns to this country, with a wife. America has now become his home, savings are invested here, land is bought, and a little house built. The growing children are educated in American schools, learn American ways, and forcibly elevate the 'standard of life' of the family. The second generation, in the fervor of its enthusiasm for change and progress becomes turbulent, unruly, and is despaired of.

[Sidenote: The Open Door]

"But out of the chaos emerges a third generation, of creditable character, from whom much may be expected. Our Austrian, Hungarian, and Russian newcomers are still in the first and second stages, and there seems no good reason why they should not pull through successfully to the third. But in that endeavor we can either help or materially hinder them, according to our treatment of them, as employees, as producers, as fellow citizens. America, for her own sake, owes to the immigrant not only the opportunities for 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' that she promises to every man, but a sympathetic appreciation of his humanity, and an intelligent assistance in developing it."[86]

[Sidenote: How the Children Lead]

This is a picture of progress in assimilation to be remembered, and the conclusion is admirably expressed. Assimilation is made easy when the wheels of contact are oiled by kindness and sympathy. The children lead the way to Americanization. Mr. Brandenburg gives this report of a conversation overheard in an Italian tenement in New York, the parties being a mother, father, and the oldest of three daughters: "Said the mother in very forcible Tuscan: 'You shall speak Italian and nothing else, if I must kill you; for what will your grandmother say when you go back to the old country, if you talk this pig's English?' 'Aw, g'wan! Youse tink I'm goin' to talk dago 'n' be called a guinea! Not on your life. I'm 'n American, I am, 'n you go 'way back an' sit down,' The mother evidently understood the reply well enough, for she poured forth a torrent of Italian, and then the father ended matters by saying in mixed Italian and English: 'Shut up, both of you. I wish I spoke English like the children do,' Many parents have learned good English in order to escape being laughed at or despised by their children."[87]

[Sidenote: The Young American]

The language is not classic, but it is that of real life such as these children have to endure. The rapidity with which foreigners become Americanized is illustrated, said Dr. Charles B. Spahr, by the experience of a gentleman in Boston. In his philanthropic work he had gotten quite a hold on the Italian population. A small boy once asked him: "Are you a Protestant?" He said "Yes," and the boy seemed disappointed. But presently he brightened up and said, "You are an American, aren't you?" "Yes." "So am I!" with satisfaction. Children become American to the extent that they do not like to have it known that they have foreign parents. One little girl of German parentage said of her teacher: "She's a lady—she can't speak German at all." Where assimilation is slow, it is quite as likely to be the fault of the natives as of the immigrants, much more likely, indeed. How can he learn American ways who is carefully and rudely excluded from them? We build a Chinese wall of exclusiveness around ourselves, our churches, and communities, and then blame the foreigner for not forcing his way within.

In a thoughtful treatment of this whole subject, Mr. Sidney Sampson says:[88]

[Sidenote: The Real Question]

"It has become a pressing and anxious question whether American institutions, with all their flexibility and their facility of application to new social conditions, will continue to endure the strain put upon them by the rapid and ceaseless introduction of foreign elements, unused, and wholly unused in great measure, to a system of government radically differing from that under which they have been educated. Can these diverse elements be brought to work in harmony with the American Idea? The centuries of subjection to absolutism, or even despotism, to which the ancestors of many of the immigrant classes have been accustomed, has formed a type of political character which cannot, except after long training, be brought into an understanding of, and sympathy with, republican principles. This is by far the most important aspect of the question, much more so than questions of industrial competition."

If the republic will not ultimately endure harm, he believes industrial questions will slowly but surely right themselves; if otherwise, none even of the wisest can foresee the result. We give his conclusion:

[Sidenote: Optimism the True View]

"What is to be the outcome of this movement of the nations upon American political and industrial life is a question which confronts us with a problem never before presented in the world's history. Upon a review of the entire situation I think we may be optimists. Notwithstanding all unfavorable features, there are antagonizing elements constantly at work, not the less potent because they work silently. We may attach undue importance to statistics merely.

[Sidenote: Assimilating Agencies]

"Students of the immigration problem do not sufficiently observe the influences—in fact, the immigrant may not himself be conscious of them—which year after year tend to adjust his habits of thought and his political views and actions to his new environment. Freedom of suffrage, educational advantages, improved industrial conditions, the dignity of citizenship, equal laws, protection of property—all these nourish in him an increasing respect for the American system; and we have reason to believe that, under proper legislation, the combined influence of all these will in the long run fully neutralize the distinctly unfavorable results of future immigration."

[Sidenote: Solution by Combined Forces]

With this we are in accord, provided the Christian people of America can be brought to see and do their whole duty by the aliens. The solution of the problem demands the combined forces of our educational, social, political, and evangelical life. In that solution is involved the destiny of ultimate America.



I. Reasons for Concern.

I. * Do you think that immigration makes a very serious problem for the United States? Why? Mention others who think differently. Why do you not agree with them?

2. * Are there any foreigners in your neighborhood? What are they and what can you do for them?

3. Do these immigrants long retain their foreign aspect and ways? In what respects do they change most quickly?

4. What does Professor Mayo-Smith say about keeping American ideals intact? Must Protestant Christianity be guarded?

II. Threatening Changes.

5. In what respects has immigration since 1820 introduced un-American standards?

6. * Have the average character and the plane of living of the immigrants been raised or lowered by their coming here? Same as to wages? As to intelligence?

7. * How are our public schools affected? Is there any menace to our school system? Can we provide compulsory education for all the children?

III. Other Effects.

8. Do these new Americans learn to use the ballot rightly? Can they learn?

9. Does their coming make genuine Christianity more or less prominent in the national life? What effect does it have on Sunday observance? Does it lessen or increase lawbreaking?

IV. National Bulwarks.

10. What are the safeguards pointed out by Professor Boyesen? By ex-President Seelye?

11. How can Socialism be met?

12. * Will anything but Christianity effectively guard our institutions?

13. How far will material improvements help to uplift and assimilate the newcomers?

14. Do the children learn patriotism from their new country? Do they keep it when grown up?

15. * Is there good reason for being optimistic? Upon what condition may we be hopeful?


I. Study further some of the specific effects of the immigrants' presence.

Warne: The Slav Invasion, V, VI. Wood: Americans in Process, VII, VIII. Riis: How the Other Half Lives, XVIII, XXI.

II. What can you learn about the present status of the parochial school movement, especially in your own vicinity?

Refer to local periodicals and daily papers.

III. Is assimilation of foreigners taking place everywhere, or only in certain places?

McLanahan: Our People of Foreign Speech, I. Hall: Immigration, 172, 182. Wood: Americans in Process, XII. Strong: The Twentieth Century City, IV.

IV. Are our school facilities, actual or prospective, likely to prove sufficient for the demands made upon them?

Riis: How the Other Half Lives, XV, XVI. Wood: Americans in Process, X. Hunter: Poverty, V.

The Christian Churches in America stand face to face with a tremendous task. It is a challenge to their faith, their devotion, their zeal. The accomplishment of it will mean not only the ascendancy of Christianity in the homeland, but also the gaining of a position of vantage for world-wide evangelization.—E. E. Chivers, D.D.



The question of supreme interest to us is the religious question. What share shall the Church have in making Christian Americans of these immigrants? How may Church and State work together for the solution of the problem, on the solution of which very largely the future prosperity of the State and the Church depends.—Charles L. Thompson, D.D.

The future success of missions will be largely affected by the success of the Church in dealing with problems that lie at her very door. The connection between home and foreign missionary work is living. The conversion of the world is bound up with the national character of professedly Christian lands. —Rev. Herbert Anderson, English Missionary in India.

"The blood of the people! changeless tide through century, creed, and race, Still one, as the sweet salt sea is one, though tempered by sun and place, The same in ocean currents and the same in sheltered seas: Forever the fountain of common hopes and kindly sympathies. Indian and Negro, Saxon and Celt, Teuton and Latin and Gaul, Mere surface shadow and sunshine, while the sounding unifies all! One love, one hope, one duty theirs! no matter the time or kin, There never was a separate heart-beat in all the races of men."



I. Alien Accessibility

[Sidenote: A Unique Mission Field]

"Save America and you save the world." Through immigration the United States is in a unique sense the most foreign country and the greatest mission field on the globe. "All peoples that on earth do dwell" have here their representatives, gathered by a divine ordering within easy reach of the gospel. Through them the world may be reached in turn. Every foreigner converted in America becomes directly or indirectly a missionary agent abroad, spreading knowledge of the truth among his kindred and tribe.[89] The greatness of the opportunity is the measure of obligation. God's message to this nation has been thus interpreted: "Here are all these people; I have taken them from the overcrowded countries where they were living and sent them to you, that you may mass your forces and lend a hand to save them." No such opportunity ever came to a nation before. The Christian church must seize it or sink into deserved decadence and decay. Only a missionary church can save the world or justify its own existence. The manner in which American Christianity deals with the religious problems of immigration will decide what part America is to play in the evangelization of the nations abroad.

[Sidenote: The Gospel the Chief Factor]

We have now reached the vital part of our subject. We have learned to discriminate between peoples and find the good in all of them. We have seen that assimilation is essential to national soundness and strength. But we have yet to realize that the most potential factor in assimilation is not legislation or education but evangelization. There is no power like the gospel to destroy race antipathies, break down the bars of prejudice, and draw all peoples into unity, brotherhood, and liberty—that spiritual freedom wherewith Christ makes free. When American Protestantism sees in immigration a divine mission none will discover in it thenceforth a human menace.

[Sidenote: Shall America be kept Christian]

Marvelous mission, involving the destiny of free America. A writer asks, "Will New England be kept Christian?" and answers, "That depends. Population is greatly changing. Immigrants from all parts of the world are here. They will continue to come. Unless they are molded according to the principles of our religion, they will greatly increase the irreligious elements of New England, already too large. There is a religious basis in those who come, but it will require an application of religious agencies to make them truly Christian citizens."[90] Put America in place of New England, and the question and answer will be as pertinent. Shall America be kept Christian? That depends. It depends upon what American Christians do.

[Sidenote: Immigrants not Evangelical]

Few of the immigrants are evangelical in religion. They know nothing of our gospel, and little or nothing of the Bible. The religious principles they have been taught are totally opposed to the spirit of our free institutions of religion. They know priestly sovereignty but not soul liberty. They are the creatures of a system, and the system is thoroughly un-American and inimical to freedom of conscience and worship. But thousands and tens of thousands of them are out of sorts with the system and are ready for something better.[91] They have lost faith in their Church and will lose it in religion unless we teach them the gospel. To accomplish this result two persons must be changed—the immigrant and the American. Alien assimilation depends largely upon American attitude.

[Sidenote: Two Timely Questions]

Two questions confront us squarely as we approach this subject. First, the common one, What do we think of the immigrant? And second, the less common but not less important one, What does the immigrant think of us? It will do us good, as Americans and as Christians, to consider both of these frankly. Honestly, what is your attitude toward the ordinary immigrant? Do you want him and his family, if he has one, in your church? Do you not prefer to have him in a mission by himself? Would you not rather work for him by proxy than with him in person? Do you not pull away from him as far as possible if he takes a seat next to you in the car? Actual contact is apt to mean contamination, germs, physical ills. He is ignorant and uncultured. You desire his conversion—in the mission. You wish him well—at a convenient distance. You would much more quickly help send a missionary to the Chinese in China than be a missionary to a Chinaman in America, would you not? Think it over, Christian, and determine your personal relation to the immigrant. Is he a brother man, or a necessary evil? Will you establish a friendly relation with him, or hold aloof from him? Does your attitude need to be changed?

[Sidenote: The Alien Point of View]

What, now, do you suppose this "undesirable" immigrant thinks of America and Protestant Christianity? What has he reason to think, in the light of his previous dreams and present realizations? What does Protestant Christianity do for him from the time he reaches America? What will he learn of our free institutions—in the tenement slums or labor camps or from the "bosses" who treat him as cattle—that will teach him to prize American citizenship, desire religious liberty, or lead a sober, respectable life? If we are in earnest about the evangelization of the immigrant we must put ourselves in his place occasionally and get his point of view. When we think fairly and rightly of the immigrant, and treat him in real Christian wise, he will soon come to think of us that our religion is real, and this will be a long step toward the change we desire him to undergo. We shall never accomplish anything until we realize that the coming of these alien millions is not accidental but providential.

II. Missionary Beginnings

[Sidenote: Alien Accessibility is Home Mission Possibility]

The first human touch put upon the immigrant in the new environment is vastly important in its effects. He is easily approachable, if rightly approached. Alien accessibility makes home mission possibility. The approach may not at first be on the distinctively religious side, but there is a way of access on some side. A living gospel incarnated in a living, loving man or woman is the "open sesame" to confidence first and conversion afterward. Make the foreigner feel that you are interested in him as a man, and the door is open beyond the power of priestcraft to shut it. The priest may for a time keep the Catholic immigrant away from the Protestant church but not from the Protestant cordiality and sympathy; and if these be shown it will not be long before the immigrant, learning rapidly to think for himself, will settle the church-going according to his own notion. A kind word has more attractive power than a cathedral. You will never win an Italian as long as you call him or think of him as "dago," nor a Jew while you nickname him "sheeny." The immigrant wants neither charity nor contempt, but a man's recognition and rights, and when American Christians give him these he will believe in their Christianity and be apt to accept it for himself.

[Sidenote: The First Touch]

Home mission work of a distinctive character should and does begin at the point of landing in the New World. At Ellis Island, for example, there are now some thirty missionaries, representing the leading Christian denominations. This gives proof of the partial awakening of the Churches to the importance of this work. It is only of late years that any special attention has been paid to the welfare of the incomers, either by State or Church. Now both are seeking to throw safeguards around the immigrants and secure them a fair start. A large room is set apart for the missionaries in the receiving building at Ellis Island, and they perform a service of great good both to the aliens and the country. First impressions count tremendously, and happy is it for the immigrant who gets this initial impression from contact with a Christian missionary instead of a street sharper. Once put the touch of human kindness upon the immigrant and he is not likely to forget it. The hour of homesickness, of strangeness in a strange land, of perplexity and trouble, is the hour of hours when sympathy and help come most gratefully. The missionaries are on hand at this critical juncture. Thousands of immigrants are saved from falling into bad hands and evil associations through their zealous efforts. Thousands are supplied with copies of the Testament, the sick and sorrowful are comforted, the rejected are tenderly ministered to in their distress, and the gospel is preached in the practical way that makes it a living remembrance. This is one way in which a true and enduring assimilation is begun.

[Sidenote: The Fruit of Kindness]

Here is a single illustration of the unexpected results of this first Christian touch in the new world. One of the women missionaries was very kind to a Bohemian family, helping the father find his destination and get settled. At parting, the missionary gave him a Testament and asked him to read it when in trouble. He thanked her for all her kindness to him and his family, and said he would keep the book for her sake. He put it away and forgot all about it. One day his little girl got the book and tore a leaf out. When he learned what she had done he was very angry, and punished her for tearing the book, saying that the kind lady at Ellis Island had given it to him, and he had promised to keep it. He threatened the child with severe punishment if she touched it again. "What is the book, papa?" she asked. He said he did not know what it was, but the lady gave it to him, and that was enough.

[Sidenote: The Gospel's Power]

The little girl kept asking about it until at length his curiosity was aroused, and he took the Testament to find out for himself. As he began to read the story of Jesus he became interested, and presently had his wife reading it also. Such wonderful things he had never heard of before, and he thought he would tell the priest about it, for if the priest knew about it he would surely tell the people. The priest forbade him to look into the book again, saying that it was a bad book and would cost him his soul if he read it. This only ended the influence of the priest, for the immigrant said such a good person as Jesus could not do anybody any harm, he was sure of that. He decided to go back to Ellis Island and ask the kind lady about it. The light came, and he and his family are earnest members of a Christian church, showing their gratitude by trying with true missionary spirit to bring others of their race to the Master.[92]

[Sidenote: Immigrant Headquarters]

This missionary work, coming at the critical time, needs to be extended and dignified. It should be so enlarged that it would be possible to reach in some way the great mass of the newcomers, where now it touches comparatively few. There should be a great interdenominational headquarters building, thoroughly equipped for every kind of helpful service. A large force of trained workers of different nationalities should be employed, so that all kinds of needs might be met. It is entirely possible to establish a center that would powerfully impress the immigrants with the worth and importance of the Christian religion. But no small affair will do. Our great denominations have the money in plenty, and certainly have the talent to organize such a work as the world has never yet seen. And what a chance for personal service such an institution would afford. This would be a living object lesson of Christianity helping the world, that might fitly stand beside the statue of "Liberty enlightening the world."

III. Protestantism and the Alien

[Sidenote: Present Work for the Foreigners]

How are the evangelical denominations meeting their imperative obligation to evangelize the multitudes brought to their very doors? When the immigrant has passed through the gates, what attention is paid to him? Take it in the centers of population, where the mass of the immigrants go, and the showing is not very imposing as yet.

[Sidenote: Abandoned Fields]

The truth is that as the foreigners have moved into down-town New York the old-time Protestant churches have moved out, in great measure abandoning the field, on the assumption that there was no constituency to maintain an American church. It did not seem to dawn upon the rich churches which moved up town that the new population needed evangelization and could be evangelized. The result is that the immigrant accustomed to imposing churches and splendid architecture and impressive ritual, sees little to impress him with the existence of Protestant Christianity. Go through that teeming East Side in New York, and here and there you will find a mission supported in desultory fashion by some church or city mission society or mission board, and in quarters conducive to anything but worship or respect. There is nothing to make the new arrival feel the presence and power of the religious faith that created this free Republic and still predominates in its best life. So it is wherever you go. The home mission work is in its beginnings, and these are manifestly feeble and inadequate.

[Sidenote: An Example]

The Roman Catholics teach us some practical lessons. They build large and impressive churches for the immigrants. They abandon no fields, and immediately occupy those left by Protestants. They expend money where it will go furthest. The Protestants of New York should have been far-sighted enough to plant strong evangelistic and philanthropic institutions in the fields from which they withdrew their churches. Valuable ground has been lost for want of this missionary insight and impulse.

[Sidenote: Need of an Awakening]

The conditions in New York are symptomatic of those obtaining generally, in country as well as city. The Protestant churches, not recognizing the supreme home mission opportunity to Christianize the immigrants, have in many cases become weak where a zealous evangelism would have kept them strong. Too many of the American Churches have been satisfied with their own prosperity and unmindful of the growing need of the gospel all around them. As a missionary worker says:[93] "There are plenty of Christians who believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation in a vague and general way; but there are not enough people who clearly believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to the Italian working on the railroad, or the Hungarian in the shops, or the German on the farm. Too many of us have no faith at all in foreign missions at home."

[Sidenote: Reasons for Present Conditions]

It is impossible to enter into details of what has been undertaken by the different evangelical denominations. Reference to the tables furnished by various Home Mission Boards[94] will indicate, as far as bald figures can do so, the extent of the work among the various peoples. The statistics show that in the country, especially in the West, missions among the earlier type of immigrants—the German and Scandinavian—have long been maintained with success. There are hundreds of strong and prosperous churches among these peoples. For the later immigrants less has been done, although the need is far greater. Some of the reasons for the small proportions of this work are manifest. In order to reach the Slavs and Italians there must be native missionaries, and these cannot be found offhand. After converts are made, those who are fitted to preach and teach must be trained, and schools must be provided for the training.[95] The difficulties of language must first be overcome. The process requires time and patience and large resources. Missions cannot be imposed upon these foreign peoples from without. Force cannot be used. Access must be found, and the gospel seed be sown as opportunity occurs. There must be a natural development in a work like this, which deals with individuals, and that by persuasion. The present work must not be judged too harshly, therefore, as reflecting upon the churches. Only of late has the need been recognized by the leaders in Christian effort. Dr. Thompson puts the situation in true light, when he says:

[Sidenote: The Point for a New Departure]

"It goes without saying that the church has not so far taken its full share of the responsibility. She has not realized the gravity of the situation. Indeed, only in late years has it emerged in its full significance. Consequently the work of the various Christian bodies has been sporadic, rather than systematic and persistent. There has been no serious endeavor to deal with it as a problem and to try to compass it. All the Churches have worked among the foreigners, but it has been determined by local conditions and needs which have appealed to Christian people here and there; that, however, is very different from an intelligent view of the whole situation and a campaign intended and adapted to solve the whole problem. We have reached a point in the immigration problem where it must be solved broadly, philosophically, and by the combination of all forces—civic, social, moral, and religious—to bring about the healthy assimilation of all foreign elements into the life of the body politic."[96]

[Sidenote: Success of Earnest Effort]

We have said the foreigner is accessible. How true this is, when earnest and genuine effort is made, is shown by the tent work in many cities. Take it among the Italians in New York, for example. A tent worker tells the results:[97]

"New York City within a year will hold a half million Italians. What is the Church of America to do with them? Will they listen to the gospel? Who has tried to reach them?

[Sidenote: Tent Work Results in a Church]

"During the past summer a company of earnest workers for God and man tested the problem of saving men to save New York. They started an open-air and tent campaign. They proceeded on the simple hypothesis that 'Nothing will elevate the man, no matter how good he is morally, except the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it alone is the power of God to change the whole man and save him eternally.' They drove their tent-stakes into the ground in an Italian quarter and began to preach and to sing the gospel of grace triumphant into the ears and hearts of Roman Catholic Italians. Except when the weather was exceptionally bad, from five to six hundred persons were there nightly. They were met just as the foreign missionary would meet them. Not one among them, perhaps, Christian from a purely evangelistic standpoint, and yet, what was the result? In less than one year they expect to have a permanent church building to cost $60,000; something like two hundred are ready to enter and form a Protestant church."

[Sidenote: An Ingenious Italian Expedient]

Is this a hopeful work, this effort to evangelize the foreigners? Let the following unique instance give its answer, and illustrate also the intertwinings of the home and foreign work. In a quarry at Monson, Massachusetts, where over three hundred Italians are employed, there was among the number a man who had been converted in Italy, through the faithful efforts of an American missionary. When this convert reached the Massachusetts quarry, his heart burned within him as he realized the spiritual condition of his countrymen, who were living without any religious services. He labored so effectively for their salvation that in a few months seventeen of the workmen were converted, and they held regular meetings for prayer and study of the Bible. At length they sent a message, signed by every convert, to a state missionary society: "In God's name, send us a missionary." A missionary was sent to organize them into a church. They had no meeting-place, and in this emergency one of the converts proposed that a room be built on the roof of his cottage. This was done by the little band, and there they worshiped until the place was too small. Then the first story was extended in the rear, giving space for a comfortable chapel, and the family occupied the second story or roof-room. This indicates the ingenuity as well as the generous and self-sacrificing spirit of these Italian Christians, who maintain a regular pastor and full services. How many of our American churches, with much larger resources, could show a better record? What American Christian would have thought of building a meeting-house on his home roof, or would have been willing to do it if he had thought of it? In devotion and liberality the converted aliens often set noble examples for American Christians.[98]

IV. The Call to Great Things

[Sidenote: How to Save Our American Churches]

[Sidenote: Missionary Effort the Solution]

Missionaries have been surprised at the eagerness with which they were received by the Italians, Bohemians, Poles, Slovaks, and Lithuanians, and others commonly regarded as most hopeless. The Bohemians have a large number of freethinkers—over 300 societies of them—who have sought to draw their people away from Christianity or any form of religion; but they also have a large number of earnest and devoted Christian converts, who know the power of the gospel to save, and are preaching and teaching it. In Pennsylvania, among the Slav peoples, simple-hearted native workers who have found the way of life are making that way known to others, and local churches in many places are becoming revived through their active work for these foreigners. Many churches now extinct would be alive if they had seen their opportunity. If those churches that have lost most of their old-time membership could be filled with missionary zeal, and be sustained as evangelistic centers, the church life of the mining regions would become a different thing once more. The only way to save these American churches is for them to save the immigrants. The same thing is true in all country sections where the foreigners have become numerous. The need everywhere is for money to plant and equip thoroughly, and maintain efficiently, these evangelizing churches in every community. These institutions must be more than meeting-houses, open a few times a week.

[Sidenote: A Great Mission Enterprise]

The institutional church always open, with something to meet every legitimate need of old and young, so that the evangelical center shall be the center of community life, can alone meet the requirement. A great force of workers must be raised up, and this means training schools. No more important educational work can be done in our country in the present emergency. These schools might be interdenominational, with special classes where required for the specific denominational training, and thus a united Protestantism could be rallied to their support, and make them of size sufficient to impress all with the real consequence of the work.

[Sidenote: Church Federation for Service]

In this work the interdenominational comity and cooeperation represented in the federation of evangelical churches would secure the best covering of the whole field, in the true fraternal and Christian spirit. What all desire supremely is the salvation of the immigrants. And only a united Protestantism can present such a massive front as to impress the world. This work must be large enough to be self-respecting. At present it is extremely doubtful if there is enough of it to make individual members of the churches feel its worth and importance. There should be a mighty advance movement, calling for millions of money and thousands of missionaries, and reaching into a multitude of places now destitute of gospel influences. Then the alien in America would realize the American spirit and purpose and interest in him, and the birth of a new citizenship would begin.

[Sidenote: Planning Large Things]

This is the day of large enterprises. The home mission movement for the evangelization of the foreign peoples in America ought to be in the forefront of the great enterprises. The real hope of America lies in the success of this work. The best brain of the Christian laity should be engaged in this business.

[Sidenote: A Million a Year in New York]

In New York City alone the Christian denominations ought to raise and expend at least a million dollars a year for the next ten years for city foreign evangelization, and this would be only a start in a work bound to extend indefinitely. The demand is imperative. The fields are ripe for harvest. We have seen that the old religious ties are not only weakened by the Atlantic voyage, but often broken altogether. In some nationalities this tie is strong, in most of them not very binding. The great bulk of the new immigration is Roman or Greek Catholic. Thousands of these nominal church members drift into open infidelity or schools of atheism, or else into nothingism. Their former Church does not keep them, and Protestantism does not get them. It is a question whether their new condition is better or worse, religiously, than it was in the old country. We should remove that question by surrounding them with such Christian influences and institutions as will make it impossible for them to escape the Americanizing and evangelizing environment. Why should not Christian philanthropy, for instance, build a block of model tenement-houses in the Italian district, and give the income from rentals as a permanent endowment for Italian mission work? This would be a double blessing.

[Sidenote: How to Use Wealth for Country]

There is a magnificent opportunity, an opportunity to fire the heart of the men who have means to carry out whatever they devise. The evangelical denominations should establish in the heart of the East Side, where are gathered a dozen little nationalities, not simply one great establishment of distinctively religious and educational character, but a number of such institutional churches, costing anywhere from a million to a million and a half each, and sustained in a thoroughly business-like way. Christianity should permeate the entire work. We ought to be working for to-day and for the future. The Home Mission Boards in cooeperation should be asked to lead forward in this, the greatest task of the twentieth century. There is nothing sentimental or impracticable about these suggestions.

[Sidenote: A Work for United Protestantism]

Here is a work that demands the moral strength of Protestant union. Let us seek to make the foreigners Christian, give them the Bible, and set them an example of the brotherhood of believers. Then the immigrants will become believers and join the brotherhood.

[Sidenote: What the Local Church Can Do]

In addition to this organized work done through the missionary bodies, there is a large work for local churches to do. In some denominations, which report little organized effort, there is much mission work done by local parishes. And in all denominations there are many churches that study their community and apply themselves to its needs. The Chinese Sunday-school work has been chiefly done by the local churches, and therefore it is not easy to learn the extent of the work, since reports are not made to central boards. This form of service is especially desirable when it draws the members of the churches to any extent into personal contact with the foreign element, and it should be fostered.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse